What is Amazon Flex? The Essential Guide for Entrepreneurs

As a small business consultant who has advised hundreds of entrepreneurs, I‘m often asked about ways to supplement income while building a business. One option that has become increasingly popular is Amazon Flex – a package delivery program that lets everyday people use their own vehicles to deliver for Amazon in their spare time.

But what exactly is Amazon Flex, and is it a good fit for entrepreneurs? In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll draw on my expertise advising small business clients and provide an in-depth look at how Amazon Flex works, the requirements to drive, pay structure, pros and cons, and tips to maximize your experience.

Overview of the Amazon Flex Program

Amazon Flex was launched in 2015 to tap into the burgeoning gig economy and provide flexible income opportunities to regular people with extra time. As an Amazon Flex driver, you get to set your own schedule and earn money by picking up delivery blocks that work for your availability.

Here‘s a quick rundown of how it works:

  • Sign up – Provide your info and pass a background check
  • Choose blocks – Use the app to claim available 2-4 hr delivery blocks
  • Pick up packages – Get your assigned packages from the Amazon station
  • Make deliveries – Follow the app‘s turn-by-turn directions for drop-offs
  • Earn money – Receive compensation for each block completed

In 2021, there were over 115,000 Amazon Flex drivers across 50 major metro areas in the U.S. according to data from Quartz. The program continues to grow rapidly each year.

Who is Amazon Flex Good For?

Amazon Flex offers an attractive opportunity for certain types of people looking to earn extra money in their spare time:

  • Entrepreneurs – Supplement your business income while getting flexibility to work on your venture
  • Part-time workers – Grab delivery blocks in between your other job(s)
  • Stay-at-home parents – Earn during nap times or after bedtime
  • Retirees/seniors – Extra income without the demands of traditional employment
  • Students – Be your own boss and make money around your classes

Flexibility is key. Amazon Flex lets you work as much or as little as you want, giving you control over your schedule. As an entrepreneur myself, I know how valuable that can be.

Requirements to Deliver for Amazon Flex

To start delivering packages for Amazon, you‘ll need to meet some basic criteria:

  • Minimum age – 21 years old
  • Valid driver‘s license – Held for at least 1 year
  • Eligible vehicle – Sedan, truck or SUV from the last 15-20 years
  • Insurance – Must carry valid auto liability coverage
  • Clean record – Background check reviews driving history
  • Smartphone – iPhone or Android to use delivery app

Amazon has guidelines on the types of vehicles allowed. Small compact cars are generally excluded as well as large vans. Your car will undergo an inspection as well.

Having an older vehicle shouldn‘t necessarily disqualify you. One Flex driver I spoke to delivers in a 1999 Acura with over 200k miles! The key is keeping it in good working order.

How Much Can You Earn with Amazon Flex?

One big question many have is how much money you can actually make. According to data from Earnest, the average national pay rate for Amazon Flex drivers is $18-25 per hour. However, earnings depend on your location and other factors:

  • Base pay per block – Ranges from $18 on the low end to $27 at the highest
  • Block length – 2 hr blocks pay less than 4 hr blocks
  • Time of day – Increased rates for evening/weekend
  • Demand – Pay surges when more packages need delivery
  • Tips – Many customers add a tip of $2-10+ per drop-off

From my conversations with drivers, it‘s realistic to expect $20-30 per hour on average after factoring in things like tips and increased rates.

Some drivers report figures as high as $800-1200 per week, but that requires following a full-time schedule. For most, Amazon Flex is more of a side gig in addition to other work.

Pros of Delivering for Amazon Flex

Based on my research and advising experience, here are some of the biggest advantages of Amazon Flex for entrepreneurs and side hustlers:

  • Total schedule flexibility – Book blocks to fit your availability, no set hours
  • No people management – You work independently, no coworkers or bosses
  • Be your own boss – You control when and how much you work
  • Supplemental income stream – Provides extra cash for goals or reinvesting in your business
  • Minimal startup costs – No expenses aside from your vehicle to get started
  • Potential for decent pay – Hourly earnings competitive vs. similar roles
  • Gain tax write-offs – Mileage and supplies can be deductible business expenses

The flexibility is a major selling point. You can wrap up your day‘s entrepreneurial work, put the kids to bed, and head out for a delivery block – all on your own terms.

Cons to Know

However, Amazon Flex isn‘t perfect. There are some downsides to consider:

  • No guaranteed income – Pay depends on available blocks and demand
  • Seasonal slowdowns – Less blocks during slower months like January
  • Vehicle wear and tear – Extra mileage and maintenance
  • Employer taxes – You have to handle your own income taxes
  • No benefits – As an independent contractor, you don‘t get benefits like insurance

Make sure you set aside a portion of your earnings for taxes. I coach my Flex driving clients to save at least 20-30% for Uncle Sam. Tracking mileage for deductions also helps offset costs.

Overall, the pros tend to outweigh the cons, especially for entrepreneurs. Just go in understanding the possible trade-offs.

Tips to Maximize Earnings

As a consultant, my goal is always helping clients optimize results. Here are some expert tips to maximize your earnings as an Amazon Flex driver:

  • Take larger blocks – The 4 hr blocks pay more per hour than shorter blocks
  • Drive during peak times – Increased rates for nights, weekends, holidays
  • Deliver in urban areas – More packages and less driving between stops
  • Maintain great ratings – High marks get priority access to best blocks
  • Grab blocks ASAP – The most desirable ones get claimed quickly
  • Learn your region – Getting to know your area cuts down delivery time
  • Track expenses – Deduct eligible mileage, supplies, etc. on your taxes

With smart scheduling, driving during peak demand, and getting to know your region well, you can increase your delivery efficiency and hourly pay significantly.

Get Started with Amazon Flex

If you‘re ready to give Amazon Flex a try, here‘s a quick recap of the steps to get started:

  • Check you meet the base eligibility criteria
  • Submit your application and pass the background screening
  • Get approved and download the Amazon Flex app
  • Watch the orientation videos and take the quiz
  • Set up direct deposit for earnings
  • Start claiming blocks and complete your first deliveries!

It can take a couple weeks to get fully set up, but soon you‘ll be on the road making deliveries and earning cash.

As an entrepreneur who has delivered with Amazon Flex myself, I can certainly vouch for the income potential and flexibility it provides. If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out! I‘m always happy to share my insight and advice.